Could College of The Bahamas future growth expand to Andros?

At the Caleb Evans farm, COB president Dr Betsy Vogel Boze (left), professor Daniel Thompson (centre) and BAIC agriculture manager Ayret Lightbourn inspect sweet peppers grown using drip irrigation.

Nicholl’s Town, Andros – The College of The Bahamas has North Andros in its sight.

College president Dr Betsy Vogel Boze said North Andros could be the home of the agriculture side of their small island sustainability programme.

Dr Boze, Organisation of American States (OAS) Bahamas representative Juliet E Mallet Phillip, College of The Bahamas professors Lionel Johnson and Daniel Thompson, and executives of Bahamas Agricultural and Industrial Corporation (BAIC) toured the North Andros farming community on Wednesday.

The BAIC team included general manager Benjamin Rahming, assistant general managers Arnold Dorsett (agriculture) and Judith Thompson (land), and domestic investment manager Alphonso Smith.

“There is a place for Andros in our small island sustainability programme,” said Dr Boze. “Right now it’s an academic programme but we have funding from Campbell Shipping and the Freedom Foundation to build the bricks and mortar facility.

“I think part of that, probably the agricultural research centre, needs to be located in Andros as that makes a lot more sense than having it in New Providence.”

She told of Andros becoming “a destination location for students from all over The Bahamas” as a result.

“We certainly need to expand our reach,” she added. “We are the national tertiary institution and we need to serve all of The Bahamas and that certainly includes Andros.”

She spoke highly of Family Island students.

“I love our Family Island students,” she said. “I see a noticeable difference between our students from the Family Islands and our students from Nassau. They are so respectful and polite and focused. They are a delight to have on campus.”

Professor Johnson is chairperson of COB’s School of Chemistry, Environmental and Life Sciences which includes agriculture.

“We had a chance to see areas where there could be collaboration between the various stake holders in North Andros and the College of The Bahamas, in particular BAIC and the Department of Agriculture,” he said.

“What you see is the availability of land and the commitment on the part of BAIC in particular to collaborate with persons who are involved in agriculture to make initiatives work.

“I think that is very promising and very helpful for individuals to know that there are partners in the field or related fields who are willing to work together to push agriculture in North Andros,” he said.

Professor Johnson saw opportunities for the College’s small island sustainability programme to do a lot of its field work in Andros.

“If the opportunity presents itself it is possible that the agriculture sector of the programme could be located in North Andros,” he said. “It would allow for a lot of expansion of opportunities.

“The kinds of opportunities that exist here we cannot do in Nassau because we don’t have the same kind of space and technical co-operation that we will get here from all of the extension officers and the assistance of persons from BAIC. That would cause that programme to really flourish.”

OAS representative Mrs Phillip was impressed by “the success stories” in agriculture.

“We are hoping to assist in identifying potential markets to raising the quality and making that quality consistent to raising the level of production,” she said.

Farmers here are preparing for the first harvest of the winter season with cabbages, tomatoes, sweet peppers, cucumbers, pumpkins, and egg plants, among products in the government’s packing house.